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|Round The Red Lamp||Arthur Conan Doyle|
A Physiologist's Wife.
|Page 7 of 13||
"I think not," remarked the Professor, gravely. "But there is your luncheon-gong. No, thank you, Mrs. Esdaile, I cannot stay. My carriage is waiting. Good-bye. Good-bye, Mrs. O'James."
He raised his hat and stalked slowly away among the laurel bushes.
"He has no taste," said Mrs. Esdaile--" no eye for beauty."
"On the contrary," Mrs. O'James answered, with a saucy little jerk of the chin. "He has just asked me to be his wife."
As Professor Ainslie Grey ascended the steps of his house, the hall-door opened and a dapper gentleman stepped briskly out. He was somewhat sallow in the face, with dark, beady eyes, and a short, black beard with an aggressive bristle. Thought and work had left their traces upon his face, but he moved with the brisk activity of a man who had not yet bade good-bye to his youth.
"I'm in luck's way," he cried. "I wanted to see you."
"Then come back into the library," said the Professor; "you must stay and have lunch with us."
The two men entered the hall, and the Professor led the way into his private sanctum. He motioned his companion into an arm-chair.
"I trust that you have been successful, O'Brien," said he. "I should be loath to exercise any undue pressure upon my sister Ada; but I have given her to understand that there is no one whom I should prefer for a brother-in-law to my most brilliant scholar, the author of Some Remarks upon the Bile-Pigments, with special reference to Urobilin."
"You are very kind, Professor Grey--you have always been very kind," said the other. "I approached Miss Grey upon the subject; she did not say No."
"She said Yes, then?"
"No; she proposed to leave the matter open until my return from Edinburgh. I go to-day, as you know, and I hope to commence my research to-morrow."
"On the comparative anatomy of the vermiform appendix, by James M`Murdo O'Brien," said the Professor, sonorously. "It is a glorious subject--a subject which lies at the very root of evolutionary philosophy."
"Ah! she is the dearest girl," cried O'Brien, with a sudden little spurt of Celtic enthusiasm--"she is the soul of truth and of honour."
"The vermiform appendix----" began the Professor.
"She is an angel from heaven," interrupted the other. "I fear that it is my advocacy of scientific freedom in religious thought which stands in my way with her."
"You must not truckle upon that point. You must be true to your convictions; let there be no compromise there."
"My reason is true to agnosticism, and yet I am conscious of a void--a vacuum. I had feelings at the old church at home between the scent of the incense and the roll of the organ, such as I have never experienced in the laboratory or the lecture-room."
"Sensuous-purely sensuous," said the Professor, rubbing his chin. "Vague hereditary tendencies stirred into life by the stimulation of the nasal and auditory nerves."
"Maybe so, maybe so," the younger man answered thoughtfully. "But this was not what I wished to speak to you about. Before I enter your family, your sister and you have a claim to know all that I can tell you about my career. Of my worldly prospects I have already spoken to you. There is only one point which I have omitted to mention. I am a widower."
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|Round The Red Lamp
Arthur Conan Doyle
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